04 March, 2019

Issues from all sides

In recent times, I've read two posts from No Kidding bloggers taking opposite positions on an issue that comes up from time to time. Are our pets our children? I'm not going to enter this debate, but it is an example that, as there are more No Kidding women writing and speaking out, there will be a wider range of opinions about what life is like for those of us who are living No Kidding lives without children. And perhaps we should be a wee bit careful when we try to speak for our group. We're not all the same.

I know that it is very easy for us to take offence at words or behaviour that feel unkind or pointed. After all, it is kind of funny that I'm writing this post when only a week ago I wrote about some comments that I felt were meant to hurt me. It is, of course, particularly easy to be hurt and offended when we are still hurting ourselves, when we are vulnerable, when every nerve in our body (and brain) is sensitised, when we have that distorted view that half the world is pregnant or has a baby, and that the rest of the world is against us. Whilst I won't criticise anyone for feeling this way at such a difficult time, it is good too to gently put an alternative point of view, or offer reasons why someone might have said something or acted in a particular way, without denying the person the legitimate reaction to something that hurts.

Gradually, though, as we heal most of us become better able to distinguish between genuine, if  misguided, attempts to be kind, and those comments or behaviour designed to put us in our place, criticise our situations or decisions, and make us feel lesser. Or to recognise comments or actions that were thoughtless but innocent, and shrug or laugh at the ignorance behind them.

In the two posts I'm thinking about, offence was taken for opposite reactions. One person commented that nobody would ever say "your pets are your children" if they had been through what we have been through. Yet another blogger, who was also childless not by choice, did indeed feel that their dog was their child, and was upset that family members weren't treating the dog accordingly. Interestingly, both posts felt that these comments and behaviour were an example of discrimination against their No Kidding status, and were an example of being ignored and dismissed.

However, I personally know people who do not share our No Kidding status but who refer to their pets as children, and would be only too happy to refer to my pets as mine. Who always included our cats (when they were alive) on our Christmas cards, and their pets as well as their children. Their reactions weren't a case of being condescending towards a childless couple, but rather of acknowledging the importance of pets in their and our family. Likewise, I know No Kidding people who would not treat a dog as a child, or make concessions for a dog's behaviour in the way they might for a child, and mean no offence. It's not necessarily an issue where the lines are drawn based on your childless or parent status.

So thinking about these posts reminded me to question motivations (my own and others) before taking offence. Now that I'm comfortable in my No Kidding life, it is easier to do this. I'll feel pain when it is warranted, but understanding someone's motivations means I can take offence with a grain of salt, and not feel the pain so acutely, if at all. I find too I can dismiss some assumptions, forgive some, and laugh at others. Or I can choose to genuinely try and educate. Importantly, I can laugh at myself too, if I am at risk of taking myself too seriously. I think it's a valuable skill, that helps me live my life. And I probably need to employ it more often!


  1. I love this post because it shows the more work we do on our own wounds -- our inner energy, the better we can attune to and discern the words and energies that come at us from others. And that time heals, we heal, we do find this place of peace inside that is less shakeable from the outside.

    1. You said exactly what I was trying to say, but you did it so much more eloquently! Thanks.

  2. I love this post, Mali! I also agree with you, we really do need to exert that 'wee bit of carefulness' when we speak about our group. We are all independent, diverse and yet share this common bond, but it doesn't necessarily make us all the same.

    As someone who has been a huge dog and cat fan for most of my life, ever since I learnt to walk, it's often struck me as odd that people think my dog (or cats, when they were alive) were my babies. They most definitely aren't, however, the love I feel for them is real and I mourn the loss of all of the 4 pawed beauties who have enriched my life. Purely and simply, I adore dogs and cats - and always have done, the exact same as my father did. I adored them way before pregnancy loss and infertility occurred. I adored them as a child. I still adore them as an adult. That's all there is to it for me!

  3. I just read a post on the Gateway Women forum on this very subject; I think I will have to respond & send them over here. ;) I don't have pets... although we all dote on our nephew's dog & consider him a member of the family. I might even refer to myself as his "aunt" sometimes, but it's always tongue in cheek.

    Anyway, as Bamberlamb said, this just goes to show that even if we have childlessness in common, we don't all feel the same way about everything. One size does not fit all, and it's important to remember that.

  4. Dear Mali, I do agree so much with your last paragraph :-)